This cheesy, saucy vegetarian lasagna is packed with zucchini, cauliflower, walnuts, mushrooms, roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, onions, and garlic all layered up with creamy parmesan béchamel, pasta, and three kinds of cheese.
The veggies are chopped up in a food processor and create a meaty texture that's as close to cozy lasagna perfection as you can get.
Lasagna is one of the best inventions ever and if you don't agree I don't think we can be friends. Pasta layered with meat or veggies, something saucy like marinara sauce, bolognese sauce, or béchamel sauce, and plenty of cheese is my jam. And yes, I know lasagna doesn't always have cheese, but in my perfect world, it does. I love me some cheesy lasagna.
What lasagna doesn't have to have for me to go crazy over it is meat. To be clear, I LOVE classic lasagna with Italian Sausage. And Lasagna Bolognese will always be one of my favorite meals. Also this seems a good time to mention that Asian Short Rib Lasagna is a slam dunk if you want to seriously impress your dinner guests.
But, I also adore meatless Lasagna Béchamel with Mushroom Ragu and THIS incredibly delicious skillet vegetable lasagna with white sauce is the very definition of hearty and satisfying. Instead of meat, this vegetarian lasagna is packed with a whole host of veggies + walnuts and sun-dried tomatoes all layered up in a cast iron pan with creamy béchamel sauce and plenty of cheese.
It's cozy and nourishing, and all kinds of comforting. And, I want to put your fears about soggy, watery vegetables to rest right now. If you're used to meaty lasagna, I promise you won't find this vegetable lasagna lacking in any way.
Ingredients Needed to Prepare this Recipe
This skillet vegetable lasagna is PACKED with all the good things you'd expect in a warm and satisfying pan of cheesy-pasta-and-veggie-goodness.
- For the Parmesan Béchamel White Sauce: All purpose flour, butter, whole milk or half & half, salt and pepper, nutmeg, crushed red pepper flakes, parmesan cheese, and Italian parsley.
- Oven ready lasagna noodles OR fresh homemade pasta. Oven ready lasagna noodles are easier than noodles you have to boil before using AND have the best flavor and consistency after baking. I like Barilla Oven Ready lasagna noodles. But when I have time, there's nothing better than fresh homemade pasta. This recipe for fresh pasta makes the perfect amount of dough for this vegetable lasagna if you roll it to a #5 thickness.
- Vegetables: mushrooms, zucchini, cauliflower, roasted red peppers, sun dried tomatoes, an onion, and a few cloves of garlic.
- Walnuts. This is a 100% optional ingredient. Finely chopped walnuts add texture to the filling for this vegetable lasagna creating a meaty texture without any actual meat. (By the way, I used this same trick to make this super delicious Vegan Taco Meat. 👏) But, this lasagna is perfectly delicious without walnuts so if you'd rather leave them out, please do.
- Cheese! Use a classic combination of mozzarella and parmesan or any other kind of grated cheese you like. Fontina and gruyere are delicious options, as are Romano and provolone. And, Ricotta cheese adds an incredibly satisfying creaminess to this vegetarian lasagna.
- A Lemon. Lemon juice brightens the flavor of the vegetables in this lasagna and adds some extra acidity which helps balance the richness of the cheese and béchamel sauce.
- An egg. Mixing an egg into the ricotta cheese layer helps bind the cheese so it doesn't smoosh out when you cut and serve the lasagna.
- Italian seasoning. Any brand of dried Italian seasoning will do.
- Italian parsley. Also known as flat leaf parsley.
Variations and Substitutions
As with most layered casseroles, this vegetable lasagna recipe can be varied in whatever way suits your fancy. Here are a few suggestions:
- Use other kinds of fresh or dried herbs instead of, or in addition to, Italian seasoning and parsley. Fresh basil, thyme, oregano, and sage are all delicious additions to Béchamel sauce and can be sprinkled over the top of this lasagna after baking for a pop of fresh flavor. Likewise, add different dried herbs to the ricotta layer instead of (or in addition to) Italian seasoning.
- Use any kind of cheese you like to make lasagna. Stick with the classic combo of mozzarella and parmesan or switch it up with something else. Gruyere, fontina, and provolone are great additions. But also consider tossing in a few blue cheese or feta crumbles. And, while it's not often used in lasagna, white cheddar adds a delicious sharp punch of flavor that's great when mixed with a mild cheese like mozzarella.
- Toss in some other vegetables! Chop up some broccoli and toss it in with the cauliflower (or instead of the cauliflower). Add some chopped lightly cooked asparagus to the mushrooms, peppers, and sun dried tomatoes. Or, use summer squash instead of or in addition to zucchini. Other delicious additions include chopped olives, thinly sliced radishes, and minced carrots.
Step-by-Step Photos and Instructions
One note about the pasta in this lasagna: The easiest and most tasty dried pasta to use is oven-ready lasagna noodles. In taste tests, we liked the flavor and consistency better than lasagna noodles that require some boiling before layering them into lasagna.
But, if you're so inclined, fresh homemade pasta is so freaking good in here. And, if you've never made it, it's easier to make than you probably think. This homemade pasta recipe will take you through the process, step-by-step. One recipe is the perfect amount of dough for this lasagna if you roll it to a #5 thickness.
Cook sliced mushrooms in butter and olive oil until they are golden brown and caramelized.
Scrape the mushrooms into a bowl and add some chopped roasted red bell peppers and sun dried tomatoes. Set this mixture aside.
Wipe out the skillet and add some more olive oil.
Pulse cauliflower, zucchini, garlic, onion, and walnuts, in a food processor until the mixture is very finely chopped. (You may need to do this in batches or one veggie at a time, especially if you have a small food processor.)
Dump the veggies into the skillet along with some Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.
Let the veggies cook for 12-15 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently, until they are soft and just barely starting to brown.
Scrape the vegetables into a bowl, stir in some lemon juice, and set aside.
Pour the béchamel white sauce over the cooked, minced vegetables and stir to coat.
Add ricotta cheese, an egg, and some Italian seasoning to a bowl and stir to mix.
Wipe out the skillet and coat the bottom and sides of the pan with some olive oil.
Time to build the lasagna, layer by layer, in the cast iron pan. Here's how:
- Spread about ½ cup of the white sauce and vegetable mixture over the bottom of the skillet.
- Line the bottom of the skillet with noodles.
- Spread half the ricotta cheese mixture over the noodles.
- Spread half of the mushrooms, peppers, and tomatoes over the ricotta cheese.
- Spread a third of the grated mozzarella and parmesan over the mushrooms, peppers, and tomatoes.
- Spread 1 ½ cups of the vegetables and white sauce over the cheese.
- Add another layer of noodles.
- Spread the noodles with the rest of the ricotta cheese mixture.
- Spread the ricotta cheese with the rest of the mushrooms, peppers, and tomatoes.
- Sprinkle another third of the grated mozzarella and parmesan over the veggies.
- Spread another 1 ½ cups of the vegetables and white sauce over the cheese.
- Add a final layer of noodles.
Smear the noodles with the rest of the vegetables and white sauce and sprinkle the top with the rest of the grated mozzarella and parmesan. Now just pop it in the oven and let it bake until all that cheese is melted and its bubbly around the edges. Sprinkle it with some fresh parsley if you like and dive in!
Pro Tip! Check on the lasagna after it's been in the oven for 30 or 40 minutes. If the cheese on top is getting too brown, cover it with a piece of aluminum foil. Smear the foil with olive oil or spray it with non-stick baking spray to prevent the foil from sticking to the cheese and then lay it loosely over the top of the lasagna.
This recipe is designed for an 11-inch or larger cast iron skillet. The lasagna can be baked in a smaller skillet, but you will have some ingredients left over. Baking lasagna in a cast iron pan makes this a one-pan meal in which you cook the veggies in the same pan you bake the lasagna in.
Cast iron also perfect for lasagna because it provides even, steady heat as it bakes. And because cast iron is great at retaining heat it will help keep the lasagna warm for quite some time after its been removed from the oven.
But, if you prefer, you can also bake this lasagna in a 9x13 rectangle baking dish.
The other super helpful piece of equipment for making vegetable lasagna is a food processor. Most of the vegetables in this recipe are blitzed in a food processor along with chopped walnuts to create a mixture that is meaty and not even close to watery. While you could chop all those veggies by hand into very tiny pieces, a food processor makes super quick work of this task.
Skillet Vegetable Lasagna Makes a Great Camping Recipe!
Cast iron is great for camping and this skillet vegetable lasagna is no exception. Because cast iron conducts heat so evenly and provides a thick barrier between the food and the heat source, it's a good choice for small RV ovens. If you're baking this in a tiny oven, reduce the heat to 325 and cover the lasagna with greased foil about halfway through baking.
You can also make this lasagna over an open flame, but I'd suggest using a cast iron dutch oven instead of a cast iron skillet.
Prepare the lasagna in a cast iron dutch oven using a metal campfire cooking grate that's set over coals or a campfire for cooking at medium-high heat.
When the lasagna is ready to bake, create a hole in the coals that's large enough for the Dutch oven without it touching any of the coals directly. Nestle the Dutch oven in the hole and use tongs or a small shovel to place a few coals on the lid of the Dutch oven. Cook for 30 minutes, rotating the pot occasionally. Remove the coals from the lid and take the Dutch oven off the fire.
Make Ahead and Storage Instructions
If you want to make this vegetarian lasagan in advance, layer everything up in the skillet, cover it with a piece of greased aluminum foil (brush it with some olive oil or spray it with non-stick baking spray), and put it in the refrigerator until you're ready to bake. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours.
You can also make all the components for this lasagan in advance and then, when you're ready to bake it, layer everything up in your cast iron skillet and pop it in the oven.
- The white sauce for this lasagna (parmesan béchamel) can be prepared up to 2 days in advance. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator. OR, prepare the entire mixture of chopped veggies coated in béchamel sauce (steps 2-5 in the recipe) and store it in a covered container in the refrigerator.
- The mushrooms for this lasagna can also be cooked in advance. Add them to a covered container along with the chopped roasted red peppers and sun dried tomatoes and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Once baked, vegetable lasagna will keep well for up to 4 days. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator. I recommend removing leftover lasagna from the cast iron pan and storing it in a different container, plate, or dish. Storing food in cast iron can cause the food to take on a metallic flavor.
Reheat leftover lasagna in a microwave or in a preheated 350 degree oven.
If you use whole milk instead of half and half to make the parmesan béchamel, this vegetable lasagna can be frozen for up to 3 months. I recommend freezing it in a casserole dish, not in a cast iron pan. Allow the lasagna to defrost overnight in the refrigerator, then follow these instructions for the best way to reheat lasagna.
What to Serve with Vegetarian Lasagna
This is a hearty dish that can hold its own. But, if you want to serve it with a side dish or two, a light and flavorful salad is your best bet. Israeli Salad is my go-to side dish for pretty much anything because it goes well with literally everything.
I also love to serve this lasagna with a plate of simple roasted beets, dressed up with nothing more than olive oil, salt, pepper, and maybe a handful of fresh herbs.
Roasted carrots and dates is a super quick and easy side dish that goes really well with a plate of vegetable lasagna. It's also kind of pretty and fancy looking making it a great choice for dinner parties or any other special occasion.
And, while it may not be the first thing that comes to mind, jicama salad with apples is light and refreshing and makes a delicious counterpoint to hearty, cheesy lasagna.
- 2 tablespoons (1 ounce/ 28 grams) butter, salted or unsalted
- 2 tablespoons (25 grams) + ¼ cup (50 grams) extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 12 ounces mushrooms, sliced (I used cremini)
- Salt and pepper
- 12 ounces roasted red peppers, from a jar, drained and roughly chopped
- 8.5 ounces sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and roughly chopped
- ½ medium head cauliflower, broken up into about 3 cups cauliflower florets/ 12-14 ounces
- One 6-7 ounce zucchini, roughly chopped into 2-inch pieces
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and roughly chopped
- ½ cup (2 ounces/ 60 grams) chopped raw walnuts
- 3 tablespoons Italian seasoning, divided
- ¼ - ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice from 1 large lemon
- 1 recipe (2 ½ cups) Parmesan Béchamel
- 2 cups (16 ounces/ 454 grams) whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1 large egg
- One 9-ounce package oven ready lasagna noodles OR one recipe Fresh Homemade Pasta (*See note)
- 12 ounces (about 3 cups) grated mozzarella cheese
- 5 ounces (about 1 ¼ cups) grated parmesan cheese
- ½ cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)
- Add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter to an 11-inch or larger cast iron skillet and set it over medium heat. When the butter is melted, add the sliced mushrooms. Toss the mushrooms around in the fat and sprinkle with about ½ teaspoon of salt. Scrape the mushrooms into a bowl and add the chopped red peppers and sun dried tomatoes. Set aside.
- Wipe out the skillet and add the remaining ¼ cup of olive oil. Add the cauliflower, zucchini, garlic, onion, and walnuts to a food processor and pulse a few times until the mixture is very finely chopped. (Do this in batches or one veggie at a time if you have a small food processor.) Scrape the veggies into the skillet and set it over medium heat.
- Add 2 tablespoons of the Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper (if using), ½ teaspoon of salt, and ½ teaspoon of pepper to the skillet with the veggies. Sauté for 12-15 minutes over medium heat until the veggies are soft and just barely starting to brown. Dump into a bowl and stir in the lemon juice. Set aside.
- Heat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
- Make the Parmesan Béchamel sauce and then pour it into the bowl with the cooked veggies. Sir to coat the vegetables in the sauce.
- Wipe out the skillet and then coat the inside with a thin layer of olive oil. Add the ricotta cheese, egg, and remaining tablespoon of Italian seasoning to a small bowl and stir to mix.
- Layer the lasagna into the skillet: (*See the photos above for visual cues.) Spread about ½ cup of the veggie and white sauce mixture in the bottom of the skillet. Add a layer of noodles, cutting fresh pasta dough to fit over the bottom of the pan OR breaking dried oven-ready pasta to fit. Sprad half of the ricotta cheese mixture over the noodles then top it with half of the mushroom mixture. Sprinkle ⅓ of the mozzarella and parmesan cheeses over the vegetables. Spread 1 ½ cups of the veggies and white sauce mixture over the cheese and top with another layer of noodles. Spread the remaining ricotta mixture over the noodles and top with the remaining mushroom mixture. Sprinkle the mushrooms with another third of the grated mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. Spread another 1 ½ cups of the vegetable and white sauce mixture over the cheese and top with one more layer of noodles. Spread the remaining veggies and white sauce over the noodles and top with the remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
- Place the lasagna in your preheated oven and bake until the cheese on the top is melted and the lasagna is bubbling around the edges of the pan, about 50 minutes. Check the lasagna after it's been in the oven for 30-40 minutes. If the cheese on the top of the lasagna is getting too brown, brush a piece of aluminum foil with olive oil or spray it with baking spray and lay it, greased side down, over the top of the lasagna.
- Let the lasagna rest for about 10 minutes in the skillet before serving. Top with chopped fresh parsley if desired.
- This recipe for Fresh, Homemade Pasta makes the perfect amount of pasta dough for this skillet lasagna if you roll the dough to a #5 thickness.
- This recipe was created for an 11-inch or larger cast iron pan.
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Serving Size:⅛th of the lasagna
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 794Total Fat: 53gSaturated Fat: 24gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 25gCholesterol: 141mgSodium: 1184mgCarbohydrates: 50gFiber: 8gSugar: 20gProtein: 37g